- English name - Leo X
- Birth name - Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici
- Term start - March 9, 1513
- Term end - December 1, 1521
- Predecessor - Julius II
- Successor - Adrian VI
- Birth date - December 11, 1475
- Birthplace Florence, Italy
- Death date - December 1, 1521
- Death place - Rome, Italy
Pope Leo X, born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici (11 December 1475 – 1 December 1521) was Pope from 1513 to his death. He is known primarily for his failure to stem the Protestant Reformation, which began during his reign when Martin Luther (1483–1546) first accused the Roman Catholic Church of corruption.
Leo X is considered the only Pope who has bestowed his own name upon his age, and one of the few whose original extraction has corresponded in some measure with the splendour of the pontifical dignity. He was the second son of Lorenzo de' Medici. His cousin Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, would become Pope Clement VII (1523–34).
The quote "How well we know what a profitable superstition this fable of Christ has been for us" is commonly but nonetheless falsely attributed to him. In actuality, the quote is derived from The Pageant of the Popes, a parodical play of the Protestant satirist John Bale.
Giovanni de' Medici was born in Florence.
On March 26 1492, the 16-year-old Giovanni became a cardinal and moved to Rome, receiving a letter of advice from his parents which rank among the wisest and weightiest compositions of its class. Within a few months his prospects were clouded by the nearly simultaneous deaths of his father and the Pope, a double bereavement closing the era of peace which Lorenzo's prudent policy had given to Italy, and inaugurating a period of foreign invasion and domestic strife.
One of the first consequences of the French irruption into Italy which shortly ensued was the expulsion of the Medici family from Florence (November 1494). Having resisted to the best of his ability, the Cardinal de' Medici found a refuge at Bologna and, being obnoxious to Innocent VIII's successor, Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) as well as seeing himself deprived of political importance for the time being, he journeyed to several foreign countries with a party of friends. Upon his return he settled in Rome, withdrawing himself from public life as much as possible, and disarming the jealousy of Alexander VI by displaying an unaffected devotion to literary pursuits.
Election to PapacyEdit
When he became Pope on March 9, 1513, Leo X rejoiced; he is reported to have said to his brother Giuliano, "Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it." The Venetian ambassador who related this of him was not unbiased, nor was he in Rome at the time, nevertheless the phrase illustrates fairly the Pope's pleasure-loving nature and the lack of seriousness that characterized him. And enjoy he did, traveling around Rome at the head of a lavish parade featuring panthers, jesters, and Hanno, a white elephant. "Under his pontificate, Christianity assumed a pagan character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus." (Alexandre Dumas pére).
Leo X was also lavish in works of charity: hospitals, convents, discharged soldiers, pilgrims, poor students, exiles, cripples, the sick, the unfortunate of every description were generously remembered, and more than 6,000 ducats were annually distributed in alms.
His extravagance offended even some Cardinals, who, led by Alfonso Petrucci of Siena, allegedly plotted an assassination attempt (which was foiled); the plan was to inject poison into the Pope's formidable hemorrhoids. Some people argue that Leo X and his followers simply concocted the assassination charges in a moneymaking scheme to collect fines from the various wealthy Cardinals Leo X detested.
Leo X was noted for his projects, including St. Peter's Basilica, and personal extravagances.
On June 15, 1520 Pope Leo X issued the papal bull "Exsurge Domine" and on January 3, 1521 excommunicated Martin Luther. This bull was widely ignored (and was publicly burned by Luther). The bull said the statement "That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit" was an error, thereby endorsing the burning of heretics . Soon after this, the Pope fell ill with Malaria.
He died in Rome in 1521, and was buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
- Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages; Drawn from the Secret Archives of the Vatican and other original sources, 40 vols. St. Louis, B.Herder 1898
- Luther Martin. Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, 2 vols., tr.and ed. by Preserved Smith, Charles Michael Jacobs, The Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, Pa. 1913, 1918. vol.I (1507-1521) and vol.2 (1521-1530) from Google Books. Reprint of Vol.1, Wipf & Stock Publishers (March 2006). ISBN 1-59752-601-0
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Leo X
- Vita de Leonis X life in Latin by Paulus Jovius
- Henry VIII to Pope Leo X. May 21,1521
- Leo X to Frederic, Elector of Saxony. Rome, July 8, 1520 "...if ( Luther ) persists in his insanity...then you should take care and zealously try to capture him and send him bound into our custody...."
- Pope Leo X at Wikimedia Commons
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